We have worked hard to maintain affordability for our students at Missouri State. Our hard work has paid off. Missouri State University is a state and national leader on providing a high value, affordable education. Missouri State’s undergraduate tuition and fees are in the lowest half of the state’s public four year universities. Missouri State’s graduate tuition and fees are among the lowest of any of the state’s public universities. In fiscal year 2015, Missouri State’s tuition and fees were 23.3 percent below the average annual tuition and fees for public universities throughout the United States.
Understanding the audit
The Missouri State Auditor released a report last week on Public Higher Education Funding and Affordability. The report confirms that in-state undergraduate tuition at Missouri’s public universities have had the lowest rate of increase of any state in the nation since 2008. I’d like to explain one piece of the audit report that has raised questions.
CPI for the six years included in the audit was more than 10 percent. Missouri State raised in-state undergraduate tuition and fees by 9 percent during that six-year period. Year-by-year information can be found below, and details can be found in the university’s board approved fee schedules.
The Higher Education Student Funding Act
Missouri has a statute, the Higher Education Student Funding Act (HESFA), that effectively prohibits universities from raising tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students above inflation. Missouri State has always complied with HESFA.
Rather than evaluating affordability under HESFA, the State Auditor used an alternative method to calculate affordability—net tuition and fees. This calculation includes items that are not relevant under HESFA:
- Tuition and fees for out-of-state, international and graduate students
- Study away (a.k.a. study abroad) fees
- Tuition and fees for internet courses
- Fees approved by a vote of the student body through student initiated referendums
- Supplemental and differential fees charged for courses and programs that have unique expenses (e.g. supplies, equipment, enhanced facilities, etc.)
These items should not be part of the evaluation because they do not generally impact affordability for taxpaying Missourians (i.e. in-state undergraduate students). In fact, it is through the revenue received from some of the above-listed items that Missouri State University has been able to maintain affordability for its in-state undergraduates.
The State Auditor’s report also indicates that universities charge supplemental fees to generate revenue outside of HESFA. This is not true for Missouri State University. We do not generate significant revenue from supplemental fees. Supplemental fees constituted less than 1 percent of Missouri State’s net tuition and fees during the years included in the audit. Moreover, Missouri State charges supplemental fees as “pass through” charges tied directly to items like special supplies, consumables, minor equipment and field trips related to particular courses. Supplemental fees do not result in positive net revenues for Missouri State University.
Affordability is critical for our students. I am pleased at our success in maintaining affordability while enhancing the quality of the education we provide.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!